There are some myths about foreclosure, bankruptcy and credit. If you don't have the facts, it's impossible to make the best decisions. Take time to learn about foreclosure, the potential impact on your credit, and some steps you can take if you're facing foreclosure.
Many people think that once they've settled a debt - no matter how that comes about - the impact on the credit report is negated. That's not true and your decisions will remain a part of your credit history, probably for seven years. That means that your decision to enter foreclosure will be there for every potential creditor for many years, impacting your ability to obtain credit.
Foreclosure is only slightly better than bankruptcy. Some people call bankruptcy a “clean slate. ” In truth, a bankruptcy will likely remain part of your credit score for even longer - usually ten years.
Foreclosure situations don't happen overnight. Most people struggle for months (or longer) before the final straw. Often, payments are a little late at first. As the mountain of debt grows, payments are later. Late charges rack up, making it more difficult to catch up. One of the most important steps you can take to avoid foreclosure happens now - well before you've even considered foreclosure as a possibility.
Start by making every attempt to make your payments on time, every time. If you see that a payment is going to be late, contact your finance company. Though it's usually tempting to avoid the phone calls that accompany late payments, be proactive. Let the company know that you're having a problem and look for some options. Some finance companies will allow you to pay interest only on a payment, tacking the principle onto the end of the note. This isn't a long-term solution that should be taken at the least sign of a problem, but could be the answer to getting your finances back on target.
If foreclosure seems to be looming, consider finding a credit counselor. You don't have to pay a fortune for the service - you're already facing financial problems. There are non-profit counselors who offer services free or for minimal fees. These can sometimes negotiate payment arrangements instead of foreclosure.
Jeff Lakie is the founder of Foreclosure Resources a website providing information on Foreclosure